The Crusader Newspaper Group

Black leaders descend on City Hall

By Erick Johnson, Chicago Crusader

With high unemployment and gun violence plaguing Black neighborhoods, Chicago’s Black leaders on Monday, June 26 descended on City Hall demanding solutions from city leaders as they staged a dramatic protest to call attention to a problem that’s tearing apart underserved neighborhoods.

Five stories below Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s office, Eric Russell of the Tree of Life Justice League led a group of Black leaders and demonstrators during a march, circling City Hall three times and demanding more jobs and safer neighborhoods. Then, demonstrators jammed two elevators and hand delivered a letter of their demands to the mayor.

“Today we will deliver this letter to the mayor and we will give him seven to 10 days to respond to this letter; and if he doesn’t respond in seven to 10 days, guess what? We will all be back here again and we will protest until the mayor responds,” said Cook County Commissioner Richard Boykin.

Pastor Ira Acree of Greater St. John Bible Church, commented, “It’s unfathomable to look at what’s going on in Chicago. We lead the nation in Black unemployment. It’s no longer acceptable. We got to do something about that. We got to get jobs back in our communities.”

While shootings remain prevalent in the Black communities, Black leaders have for years spoken out against high unemployment, poverty and despair, believing these problems are fueling frustrations and gun violence on Chicago’s West and South Sides.

“We believe that unless there is a significant investment in job creation, the quality of Black life will continue to decline,” Acree said. “We also believe the violence epidemic will continue to soar. Young people are returning from college with over $100,000 to $200,000 in debt and can’t even find a job.”

The demands threaten to renew distrust in Emanuel, who has orchestrated several successful urban renewal projects in the Black community, attempting to repair his credibility after the release of the Laquan McDonald video. Officer Jason Van Dyke was captured on police dash cam video shooting the Black teenager 16 times.

“I think it’s very important that we make sure that we call out all the elected officials. We start with the mayor because he is the CEO of the city. We can no longer continue to allow people to take our votes for granted. It’s time for us to speak up and fight back.”

“We’ve had 40 people shot this past weekend,” said Boykin. “This is unacceptable. We have a war that’s raging, so today we’re going to make a demand of the mayor. We will make demand on the promise the city made with its people.”

Acree said with high taxes, lack of jobs and violent neighborhoods, Blacks are leaving Chicago in high numbers. His concerns are reinforced by recent figures from the U.S. Census, which said more than 12,000 Black residents left Cook County in 2015 and 2016.




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